A week long cruise on the Norwegian Escape to Bermuda might be on your radar if you’re looking for a family friendly vacation. Check out this review of NCL’s top rated family cruise ship and Bermuda itinerary.
Bermuda was on my bucket list for quite a while before we finally clicked book. The picturesque beaches, close proximity to New York, and seemingly fun vibe had me hooked before we set sail. I was unsure how family friendly the ship or island would be, but after some research, I realized that my just turned one year old would have as much fun as we would. Minus the booze.
There’s good reason that the Norwegian Escape is so frequently named a top family cruise. From the splash park to NCL’s only onboard nursery, there was no shortage or entertainment for a baby. Combined with a fun, easy to navigate island and a simple itinerary, a Bermuda cruise on the Norwegian Escape made for a perfect trip with littles.
Sailing the Norwegian Escape to Bermuda: Itinerary
The Norwegian Escape typically sails from Sunday – Sunday with the following itinerary:
- Sunday: Embark from New York, NY
- Monday: At Sea
- Tuesday: At Sea
- Wednesday: Dock at Royal Naval Dockyard, Bermuda (overnight)
- Thursday: Royal Naval Dockyard, Bermuda (overnight)
- Friday: Embark from Royal Naval Dockyard, Bermuda
- Saturday: At Sea
- Sunday: Disembark at New York, NY
Similar Bermuda cruises from New York and Boston on the Norwegian Escape and other ships run for five or ten days. Enjoy an extra long weekend or extended trip. Additional NCL Bermuda itineraries include stops in Florida, the Caribbean, or even overseas on longer voyages.
My Review of the Norwegian Escape
The Norwegian Escape is a family friendly ship with a great layout and a lot to do for kids of all ages. As a family with a one year old, we skipped most of the nightly entertainment, the spa, and most of the adult activities because we spent most of the trip focusing on entertainment for Caelan. But, there wasn’t a shortage of things to do with a little one, nor were we bored to tears.
Related: Cruising With a Baby
Embarkation was my single issue with this cruise. NCL asks you to select an embarkation time when you check in for your cruise. It seems pretty strict and you’re told not to show up prior to your select time. We chose a time that would coincide with Caelan’s nap. Unfortunately, most passengers did what they felt like doing, and the NCL staff didn’t seem to care. This left us standing on line for about two hours with an over-tired, screaming baby. To make it worse, other cruisers were complaining about us, asking why they couldn’t just get us off the line quicker. GOD…someone get me a drink!
The Ship/Our Room
We booked a balcony room so we could enjoy the outside space when Caelan slept. When cruising with kids, a balcony room is the way to go. I felt that it was safe and the room in general was decently child-friendly and a comfortable size. Cruise ships in general can feel very compact and it can take a day or so to get your bearings. The Escape has a pretty standard layout that’s easy to navigate. A crew member tipped us off that the fish on the carpets always swim towards the front of the ship!
Included with any stateroom package are multiple dining rooms, the Garden Cafe buffer, O’Sheehan’s Bar & Grill, and the Manhattan Room. Our favorites were the Irish fare at O’Sheehan’s and the live music and dancing in the Manhattan Room.
Other dining rooms come with an additional cost. We dined at the French restaurant, the Brazilian Churrascaria, Food Republic, and Margaritaville. Every restaurant on board has a kids menu and you’re not typically charged for young children, even at a specialty restaurant.
NCL is pretty much known for their open bar “free at sea” promo. Yup, that means you can drink for free. Up to two drinks per person at a time, at $15 per drink, with no overall limit. I will never not sail with open bar again. And I don’t care if you judge me for that.
Bars we frequented included Tobacco Road (best bartenders), 5 O’Clock Somewhere Bar (outside), and Mojitos (live Latin music).
On Board Activities/Pools
Though taking advantage of on board activities is tough with a baby, there’s no shortage. From trivia to mini golf to toddler time, there’s always something to do. Notably, the Norwegian Escape touts one of the only on board ropes courses. It would take a few glasses of wine to convince me to do the ropes again though!
The Escape also features four water slides and a main pool with a walkable ledge and zen water feature. Next to the main pool is the kids aqua park. Older kids will enjoy climbing around, while the little ones will like the sprayers and slide. Spice H2O features an adults only hot tub and walk through grotto. We got to enjoy the area just long enough to order a drink and put our feet up before the on board nursery called us to pick up an inconsolable Caelan. The effort was there.
We also enjoyed the arcade, skiball next to O’Sheehan’s Pub, the jogging track, and the scheduled family activities.
The Norwegian Escape is the only NCL ship with a nursery on board. Their guppies nursery hosts free morning activities in the atrium, opens its playroom for playtime, and offers babysitting services. The babysitting services are at select times, which may not be convenient for some, but I felt the scheduled hours were at ideal times. Each session costs $20. The staff is competent and the process is very safe. Each child registered for a drop off requires ID cards, a password, and that the parent remain on the ship with a cell phone provided by the nursery for emergencies. We used the drop off service twice. We were asked to pick up Caelan when he became inconsolable but were surprisingly not charged for the session.
Older kids will also enjoy their respective onboard clubs, sports on the deck, and the water slides.